Screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher is ‘Precious’

NEW YORK (AP) -- On Tuesday morning, just before the 2010 Academy Award nominations were announced, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher couldn't get his TV to work...

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NEW YORK (AP) — On Tuesday morning, just before the 2010 Academy Award nominations were announced, screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher couldn’t get his TV to work. He scrambled to his computer and searched for the online broadcast of the nominations, his ears perking up for his name to be called.

He found a feed and waited. “After the first couple of names were mentioned, I somehow didn’t think mine would be,” Fletcher said.

Seconds later, Fletcher’s name flashed across the screen. He was stunned. He was nominated for best adapted screenplay for Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, the story of a semi-literate teen girl from Harlem in 1987 that has captivated audiences since the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Precious is physically and sexually abused from infancy by her mother and stepfather. After Precious becomes pregnant again, she’s forced to leave school, her mother demanding she go on welfare.

But Precious resists. She wants a better life, one filled with education and love. With the help of a devoted teacher at an alternative school and a caring social worker, she weaves a new life from the tatters of her previous one.

The film has been nominated for best picture. Gabourey Sidibe is a best-actress nominee, Mo’Nique, best supporting actress, and Lee Daniels, best director.

Fletcher finds much common ground with Precious. His struggle to enter the entertainment industry resembles her humble beginnings. And through dedication, they both found their true calling. Precious was the first screenplay Fletcher had adapted, a job he given to him by Daniels after viewing his mid-’90s 23-minute short film Magic Markers.

“I really didn’t believe him,” Fletcher said. “I had heard ‘no’ so many times over the years that I thought even if he meant it, he said it too quickly.”

Fletcher said he fell in love with “Precious” from page one.

“It was such a complete and fulfilling experience. I was just cast under its spell.”

Fletcher was drawn to Precious because the story touches on some many common threads that connect all people. The marketing slogan used to promote the film, “We Are All Precious,” was an apropos way for the audience to identify with a girl whose life, from the outside, seems unremarkable. It’s the commonalities, the dreams, the ambition and the hardships that kept the audience — and Fletcher — clinging to Precious.

“I love stories that have such specific characters and specific places, yet are about things that are so universal,” he said.

Fletcher loves Precious — the character and the film — because he understands being invisible, an overarching theme in the story. Before Precious, his career was largely off the radar in the entertainment world. “I was searching for my voice and my place in the film industry,” he said. “In large part, she reminds me of myself.”